Spring 2021 in Oregon was the driest and hottest spring on record. As a result, forage seed producers had an early harvest last year. In contrast, Spring 2022 in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, was one of the coolest and wettest years on record. Ninety percent of the cool season grass seed sold in the U.S. is grown in Oregon and adjoining states. Due to the wet, cool spring the Oregon forage seed harvest was 7-8 days later than normal. This late crop will make it difficult for our industry’s seed processors, seed labs, and warehouses to get seed out to customers in a timely manner.
All the rain has helped produce what looks to be an average to above average crop in the Pacific Northwest. It has also created above average weed seed pressure and producers are expecting a dirtier crop. This will force the seed processors to run slower, resulting in less seed cleaned per hour. Therefore, the supply of high quality, weed free seed will be more of a challenge this year. The forage seed crop report from Minnesota and Canada is similar. They anticipate an average to above average crop and a later harvest due to cool weather. The upper Mid-West crop is forecasted to be a week to 2 weeks later than normal.
Historical high seed prices, average to above average seed yields, high agricultural commodity prices, and uncertainties in the economy are just a few examples of why many are nervous about seed prices going forward. Growers will require higher prices for the 2022 crop, due to greater input costs, land rent increases, ROIs of competing crops and strong open market (not contracted seed) pricing.
There is a historically low seed carryover available in the Pacific Northwest this year. Much of the carryover inventory seems to be in the hands of consumer products/retail companies. Low carryover inventories, late harvest with processing delays, and freight challenges play a critical role in why we are anticipating seed availability limitations well into the fall season until inventories can be replenished. As the grass seed supply chain starts to fill back up, we could see softer markets later this fall, but likely too late to help seed prices for fall planting in KY. ~ excerpted from the Mt. View Seed newsletter